‘Panic marketing’ – it’s similar to the panic buying of toilet paper, but involves cleaning up a far bigger mess. In this opinion piece, AZK Media’s Founder and Managing Partner, Azadeh Williams, discusses whether or not we’re about to experience a surge in panic marketing…
When COVID hit and costs cut, marketing was one of the first budgets in business to be slashed. ‘Overly cautious’ businesses quickly reigned in their marketing efforts. Horror stories hit the headlines of marketing teams being made redundant overnight and agencies saying goodbye to dozens of marketing and PR talent.
But marketing is a core function of business operations, and holds under its purview such vital things as customer experience and customer loyalty. It is the lifeblood keeping organisations and pipelines thriving. Once it’s gone, the ’health’ of the business inevitably suffers.
Oiling the rusty lead engine
Six months ago, marketing vacancies across Seek and LinkedIn were few and far between. But conduct a quick job search now, and you’ll see well over 20,000 marketing jobs being advertised.
All those months of marketing dormancy have left a gaping hole in the Q4 pipeline. Companies who stalled marketing this year, are now realising their lead gen engine is sputtering, and their demand gen engine has stopped altogether. The reality is if your marketing function has been hibernating this year, getting back on track will take even longer than anyone could imagine.
You’re now months behind the competition
With the lockdown slowly lifting, businesses who have to start marketing from scratch, even to the point of having to hire new staff, are months behind the competition. In fact, starting a marketing campaign again from scratch could put you six months or even a year behind the competition who marketed throughout.
B&T recently cited multiple studies which demonstrated increasing ad spend by up to 20% in a recession saw an average share gain of 0.5%, and businesses that increased beyond the 20% threshold recorded average gains of 0.9%. The fact is, marketing through a recession, even with decreased activity, will hold a brand in firmer stead than ceasing marketing altogether.
“Don’t Panic. It’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anyone’s said to me all day.”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy analogies and other science fiction anecdotes have taken on a completely new meaning for businesses struggling to survive in 2020.
Yes, growing your business demands a level of marketing spend, but there’s no need to panic and simply revive redundant job roles or revert to old ways of doing things. After all, what’s the point of simply replacing the ‘captain of your marketing spaceship’, when it’s clearly heading into a black hole?
Perhaps the clean slate is an opportunity to look at agile, innovative or smarter ways of getting more bang from your marketing buck and find a stronger team to steer that ship in an exciting new direction.
For instance, for the same salary as one in-house marketer, you could consider choosing to partner with a full team of outsourced marketers, designers and multi-media content creators who are specialists in your field. For larger organisations that need an in-house CMO, why not take the burden off them juggling multiple content, video, PR and inbound agencies, when one small boutique firm could operate like a natural extension of the team?
Meanwhile, if you’ve always invested in larger agencies, it could also be a good time to consider smaller, emerging agencies which act as a close marketing and media partner, and don’t see you as simply ‘another account to manage.’
Here’s a quick checklist to help choose the right marketing partner to set your business up for success beyond the pandemic:
1. A personalised approach: Your marketing partner should offer an integrated media, inbound and content marketing strategy tailored to your specific needs. They shouldn’t try to squeeze you into a ‘one size fits all’ retainer model.
2. Senior, seasoned experts: Find the best, senior specialist marketing agency with demonstrated success in your industry, who really understands your customer pain points and knows how to orchestrate the right ‘marketing ecosystem’ to deliver maximum impact.
3. Understands every component of the customer journey: If your agency only knows how to generate ‘awareness and mindshare’, then you’re severely limiting your marketing potential. Ensure your marketing and media partner has the capability to address all parts of the customer journey from awareness and consideration to conversion.
4. Allows marketing capability to quickly scale: Whether your activity goes through escalations or downturns, your marketing partner should have the capability to quickly scale with you, without all the messy hiring and firing needed for in-house movements.
5. Accountability: An outsourced marketing partner has to get you results – and they have to start from day one. This means their deliverables are clearly defined and every single billable hour is accounted for. There’s nothing worse than spending marketing budget for ‘bums on seats,’ superfluous marketing ‘huddles’ and other unproductive internal activities.
Azadeh Williams is the Managing Partner and Founder of Global Marketing and Media Firm, AZK Media.
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